After a 4-2 road trip, the Atlanta Braves will return to Truist Park to begin a six-game homestand with a three-game series against the Colorado Rockies. While 4-2 on any road trip is a solid mark, Atlanta could have possibly swept the entire trip if not for a pair of leads slipping away late in the final two games of their series in St. Louis. Atlanta will enter play Tuesday with a 79-50 record, 3.0 games back of the New York Mets in the NL East standings. Atlanta is 42-24 at home and have won seven of 10 overall.
Ronald Acuña Jr. sat out the last two games in St. Louis due to soreness in his surgically repaired knee. The Braves are hoping that he will be ready to return Tuesday after Monday’s off day. They are getting closer to getting several other players back from injury as well. Orlando Arcia and Chadwick Tromp began rehab assignments with Gwinnett over the weekend. Ozzie Albies is expected to join them sometime this week. Albies has been out of action since suffering a broken foot on June 14.
It has been another lost season for the Rockies, who are in last place in the NL West with a 55-74 record, 34.5 games behind the Dodgers. Colorado gave a large contract this past offseason to Kris Bryant, but back and foot issues have limited him to just 42 games. He is currently on the Injured List due to plantar fasciitis. C.J. Cron is their only regular with a wRC+ above league average. He has 24 home runs on the season, but only six of those have come away from Coors Field. There’s something to be said for the way that wRC+ penalizes the Rockies, but Cron is also the only regular they have with a wOBA above .330; Ryan McMahon is the only regular with an xwOBA above .330.
Overall, the Rockies are 25th in position player value, with McMahon’s combination of hitting and fielding giving them their only player with 2.0 or more fWAR on the year. The pitching is 21st in pitching fWAR; the bullpen’s been okay and the rotation’s been below average.
While the Rockies started out well at 12-9, they’re really bottoming out right now, with a 9-17 August so far, and are 12-25 since pulling off a five-game winning streak in mid-July. The Braves, meanwhile, began their ascension towards the top of the standings with a four-game sweep of the Rockies in Colorado that pushed them above .500 for good; perhaps they’ll start another great run here given that they play the Marlins and Athletics afterwards.
Tuesday, August 30, 7:20 p.m. ET (Bally Sports South)
Jose Urena (14 G, 10 GS, 58.2 IP, 11.6 K%, 11.6 BB%, 5.98 ERA, 5.65 FIP)
Right-hander Jose Urena will get the start for the Rockies in Tuesday’s opener at Truist Park. Urena began the season with the Milwaukee Brewers, but became a free agent in early May and then signed on with the Rockies later that month. He joined the rotation in July and it has been a tough road. Urena is coming off of one of the worst starts of his career where he allowed nine hits, three walks and nine runs in just 1 1/3 innings against the Rangers. There is plenty of history between Urena and the Braves stemming from his hitting Ronald Acuña Jr. back in 2018. He has made 18 appearances (15 starts) against Atlanta in his career and has a 6.50 ERA in 73 1/3 innings.
It’s not actually clear why the Rockies are bothering to give any real rope at this point, but that’s been a hallmark of an organization that seems to somehow find “value” in letting go-nowhere veterans soak innings that could instead be used to evaluate younger and/or more controllable players.
Max Fried (24 GS, 153.1 IP, 23.0 K%, 4.3 BB%, 2.52 ERA, 2.54 FIP)
Max Fried will get the start for Atlanta in the opener. Fried has been rock solid all season and is coming off of an outstanding start in Pittsburgh where he allowed one run and struck out seven over eight innings. Fried has been the model of consistency and has logged at least six innings in six straight starts and 10 of his last 11 overall. He faced the Rockies back in early June at Coors Field and held them to just two hits in eight scoreless innings in one of his most impressive starts ever.
Wednesday, August 31, 7:20 p.m. ET (Bally Sports South)
Ryan Feltner (13 G, 12 GS, 61.1 IP, 18.8 K%, 7.4 BB%, 5.87 ERA, 4.92 FIP)
Right-hander Ryan Feltner will make his 13th start of the season Wednesday. Feltner was shuttled back and forth between the majors and Triple-A during the early part of the season, but has stuck in the rotation since August 2. He allowed six hits and three runs in 4 2/3 innings in his last start against the Mets. He faced the Braves back on June 5 in Colorado and allowed seven hits and six runs in just three innings.
Feltner has pitched much better than his outputs suggest, but his inputs aren’t particularly great. He hasn’t had an across-the-board good start since mid-June, and the Rockies are just 2-6 in his eight appearances since that good outing.
Kyle Wright (24 GS, 147.2 IP, 24.0 K%, 6.8 BB%, 2.99 ERA, 3.56 FIP)
Kyle Wright will get his 25th start of the season on Wednesday and will be looking to build off of a strong outing last time out. Wright lowered his season ERA to 2.99 after allowing just two hits while striking out eight over seven scoreless innings against the Pirates. Wright might have come back out for the eighth, but a long inning offensively by Atlanta ended his afternoon. Wednesday’s game will be Wright’s first career appearance against Colorado.
After allowing four homers to the Mets, Wright has been solid despite diminished curveball movement and one start with diminished velocity, which prompted him to miss a turn in the rotation with “arm fatigue.” He seems to have adjusted to the change in his curveball by altering its usage, and has heavily dialed back the usage of his do-little four-seamer as part of the adjustment process, something which seems to be paying substantial dividends already.
Thursday, September 1, 7:20 p.m. ET (Bally Sports South)
Chad Kuhl (21 GS, 108.0 IP, 16.6 K%, 9.8 BB%, 5.17 ERA, 5.23 FIP)
Right-hander Chad Kuhl will get the start for Colorado in Thursday’s series finale. Kuhl got off to a good start for the Rockies in 2022, but things went sideways in July and have remained bad for him thus far in August. Kuhl allowed a combined 14 runs in just 8 2/3 innings in two starts combined before hitting the Injured List with a hip flexor strain. He returned last week and allowed five hits and three runs in five innings against the Mets. Kuhl faced the Braves back on June 3 and held them scoreless for six innings while allowing five hits.
Since a complete game shutout of the Dodgers on June 27, Kuhl has a monstrously bad 202/198/150 line across seven outings, getting shelled in each one (though the Rockies won two of them anyway).
Spencer Strider (27 G, 16 GS, 106.2 IP, 36.7 K%, 8.8 BB%, 2.87 ERA, 2.05 FIP)
Spencer Strider will continue his Rookie of the Year campaign in Thursday’s series finale. Strider has continued to impress since moving into the rotation on a full time basis on May 30. Strider has a 3.06 ERA and a 2.23 FIP in 16 appearances as a starter. He held the Cardinals to just one run and struck out seven in six innings in the only game the Braves won in St. Louis over the weekend. Strider faced the Rockies back in June in his second start in the rotation and allowed just two hits and a run, but ran up a high pitch count due to five walks and left after four innings. He hasn’t walked more than three in any outing since.